Undoubtedly D23 Expo major announcement was the Star Wars Land announcement for Disneyland and WDW Disney Hollywood Studios. Plenty of stunning renderings were unveiled and let's have a closer look at all this to check what we know and what we don't know.
What we know: This Star Wars land will be built both at Disneyland and WDW DHS and so far both will have the same design the one you can see on the renderings. Although these huge pillars covered by vegetation should make a good transition at Disneyland in the back of Frontierland we can regret that the two lands don't have a different design. Two different planets environment would have been the best, and would have invited Star Wars fans to visit both of them. Yes, BUT this would be at a cost of two different research and development and, don't dream, the Mouse is not gonna pay this price. It's a mistake as there are so many different planets in Star wars mythology that could serve as inspiration but the WDC is a corporation, not a Star Wars fan club, so don't even think about it.
Star Wars land will be "Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever at 14-acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life." I've said in my previous Star Wars land post my thoughts about building an unknown planet instead of a known one so i'm not going to repeat myself here and you can read them in my article HERE. That said, 14 acres of land is pretty big indeed - in comparison Cars Land is "only" 12 acres big - and hopefully it will give all the to WDI Imagineers all the space they need to build amazing rides and a great Star Wars environment.
These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World "will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance". Okay, here is the synergy side - remember as i told you that everything at Disney is about "synergy", synergy is the pillars on which is built almost everything and in this case i'm not 100% sure that they're right. In two words, Disney prefer to build a Star Wars land based on the new trilogy rather than to the old ones. So far it's a reasonable bet and if the synergy works well it could be a big success. Yes, BUT what will happen if the new trilogy is not as memorable as the old ones? Sure, kids will be too young to see the difference but there is a reason why Star Wars has reached this level of mythology since 35 years, and it's not only because of the stories, its characters or visual effects. From the start there was a kind of "shakespearian tragedy" in the background, and whether it was voluntary or not from Georges Lucas "somewhere" in the story there was some meaning coming from the dawn of time and with which spectators could find a resonance in themselves. Will it be the case with the new trilogy? The fact that the script was written by Lawrence Kasdan and J.J Abrams could help, specially considering that Kasdan is from an old generation which know well the importance of meaning. But what if the new movie as spectacular as it will be don't create the same process of identification, in two words, what will happen if we don't give a damn about the new characters or the new planets, etc...? Sure, J.J Abrams is smart and talented and i don't doubt that he has thought about all this, but what i'm saying is that there is still a risk to have based a Star Wars land on the new trilogy when there would have been no risk with the old trilogies - except with the young kids, i admit.
Thanks God, this Star Wars land will include reminiscences of the old movies including the ability to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission and a live music cafe with a design inspired by Tatooine famous "Cantina". One of the two "signature" attractions will also be "an epic Star Wars adventure that put guests in the middle of a climactic battle" but this one is the ride which most probably will be the "climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance", so linked to the new trilogy.
What we don't know: Of course no explicit details about the rides and the technology that will be used was given, and you won't have them before a looong time as Disney and WDI will try to keep the secret as long as possible. That's okay, Universal is doing the same and it's always better to avoid spoilers. So when they say that guests will have "the ability to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon" it can mean so many different things that i'm not going to spend even one minute to think how they will do it.
You've also probably note that they didn't reveal explicitly WHERE exactly at DL and DHS they will build these SW lands. And there is some reasons for that. May be they're not yet 100% sure ( although i think they are by now ) but what we can be sure of is that the birth of these Star Wars lands will be at the cost of something that's going to die. At Disneyland you better cross your fingers if you want them to preserve Toon Town, and i will not bet that it will be the case. At DHS it's a bit different but in both cases you've noted that no words about Star Tours were said. As at DHS the Star Wars land is rumored to be build close to Star Tours it shouldn't be a major problem but what about the Star Tours at Disneyland Tomorrowland, will they keep it there at the other end of the park or dismantle it and rebuild it in the new Star Wars land behind Frontierland? The announcement of a new land is a good news but the destruction of another land is not necessarily a good one for fans and they know it, that's probably why no details were given last Saturday, to don't spoil the party...
And of course there is the big point that we don't know, which is WHEN these StarWars land will open? They didn't announce any date at D23 and they didn't even say when they expect to break the ground. An insider info is saying they're planning to start the works in 2017 and considering the scope of the project they surely will need at least two years if not three to build everything which would give an opening date for 2019 or 2020. Now, today's O.C Register article tell us more about the reason why it'll take that long and why you better don’t expect the Millennium Falcon to arrive at Disneyland any time soon. According to OCR "theme park experts said Disney will need to fix crowding and parking issues before opening the long-rumored land and getting Han Solo and his clan in place. It’s going to take a while, at least three to five years” said Adam Bezark, creative director of The Bezark Co. and involved in helping create the “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction at Shanghai Disneyland. Disney experts say a land of this magnitude will further escalate the crowding issues at the theme park that at times shuts its gates when hitting a self-imposed capacity estimated at 65,000 guests."
In two words they need to build new Disneyland car parks first, probably on the new lands that Disney recently acquired, and they will also need to replace warehouses and other structures located currently backstage which will be removed to get the needed space to build Star Wars land. For all these reasons we can't expect an opening before 4 to 5 years and by that time the three movies of the new trilogy would have been released and we will know if they will be as memorable as the old ones. And if Disney bet to based a Star Wars land on the new trilogy was a good idea - or not.
Pictures: copyright Disney